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The Sports Report: Clippers win, but talk is about Kyrie Irving

Brooklyn's Royce O'Neale, left, defends against Kawhi Leonard during the first half.
(Frank Franklin II / Associated Press)
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Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Let’s get right to the news.

From Andrew Greif: Kyrie Irving was the player Brooklyn no longer wanted around, the point guard the Clippers tried to get, the man who wasn’t there Monday while also being the night’s inescapable presence.

Twenty-four hours after the Nets chose an offer from Dallas for Irving over interest from the Clippers, the Lakers and Phoenix, and 48 hours before the Clippers will face Irving and the Mavericks in Los Angeles, Irving remained the talk of Barclays Center even though he was no longer Brooklyn’s problem.

Instead, he could now be one for the Clippers — and the rest of the crowded class of would-be Western Conference contenders tasked with defending the future backcourt of Irving, a player who “doesn’t have an offensive weakness,” said Clippers coach Tyronn Lue, and All-Star Luka Doncic.

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“Dallas has to be very ecstatic getting him and [it] puts another guy like Kyrie in our conference now, so I don’t like that,” said Lue before a 124-116 win against Brooklyn. “But whatever is best for Ky, I’m happy for him.”

Kawhi Leonard scored 24 points, including nine in the fourth quarter to thwart a short-handed Nets comeback, to improve the Clippers to 31-26. Paul George scored 39 points and center Ivica Zubac had 19 points with 12 rebounds, invaluable throughout an up-and-down game.

A survey of league insiders Monday generated a common response: The move, the first big transaction ahead of Thursday’s noon PST moratorium on trades, could either cause problems internally for Dallas given Irving’s history of ill-fated ends to his time in Cleveland, Boston and Brooklyn or just as many issues for any opponent who must face the Mavericks’ All-NBA backcourt. Irving is expected to make his Dallas debut Wednesday night against the Clippers, but Doncic is not expected to play because of a heel contusion.

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LAKERS

From Austin Knoblauch: Want to be part of NBA history this week? It’s going to cost you.

LeBron James becoming the NBA’s all-time leading scorer won’t rival the stub-sanity of a Taylor Swift concert tour, but it’s obvious courtside glitterati aren’t the only ones willing to pay big to watch the Lakers star score his 38,388th career point.

James is poised to break Kareem Abdul-Jabbar‘s all-time scoring mark this week after his 27-point performance Saturday in a loss to the New Orleans Pelicans. James is 36 points away from the record, and that has caused some significant ripples in the NBA ticket market.

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The average ticket price for Tuesday’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder is 50% higher than the season average and tickets for Thursday’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks are 70% higher, according to ticket marketplace StubHub.

Those steep increases have made the Lakers the hottest ticket in the NBA. According to StubHub, the Lakers sold more tickets last week than the New York Knicks, Golden State Warriors and Boston Celtics combined. Not bad for a 13th-place team.

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LeBron James continues pursuit of scoring record in wake of Kyrie Irving trade

SUPER BOWL

From Chuck Schilken: When you think about it, life as an NFL fan can generally be a miserable existence. After all, only one of 32 fan bases has reason to celebrate after its team’s final game of the season.

Some fan bases have experienced such exhilaration more often than others. Some have done so, but not in a long time. Some seem always on the brink of such unbridled joy, only to have their hopes crushed on a regular basis.

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And, of course, some fan bases have never had the opportunity of celebrating a Super Bowl victory.

As the season comes to a close with Super Bowl LVII on Feb. 12, we tried to determine which NFL fan bases are generally the most (and least) miserable. Our complicated, and completely made-up, formula considers such factors as recent success or failure, level of optimism for the near future and, to a lesser degree, past glory (the thinking being, the longer ago an event was, the less relevance it might have for today’s fans).

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Sunday
at Glendale, Ariz.
Philadelphia vs. Kansas City, 3:30 p.m. PT, Fox

SUPER BOWL POLL

We will win the Super Bowl? Click here to vote.

Super Bowl LVII: Start time, odds and halftime show

How the Philadelphia Eagles nearly became the Phoenix Eagles in 1984

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The Times podcast: A Super Bowl with two Black quarterbacks

DODGERS

From Dylan Hernández: Don’t mistake his humility for weakness. Don’t confuse his silence for contentment.

Julio Urías has pride.

Listen to him carefully. It’s there.

“I always try to give respect to whomever deserves it,” Urías said in Spanish. “I try to do my thing and hopefully they also carry their part, no?”

He was talking about the Dodgers and how this could be his final season with them. He will be a free agent next winter.

The Dodgers haven’t always treated the 26-year-old the way teams typically treat pitchers of his stature, and now the only way they can show him the respect he craves might be to pay him more than owner Mark Walter and the front office would like.

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UCLA SOFTBALL

From Thuc Nhi Nguyen: Embarrassed isn’t the word UCLA softball coach Kelly Inouye-Perez would use, even if the final scoreline was embarrassing.

The 15-0 drubbing by eventual national champion Oklahoma that ended UCLA’s season still lingers in the Bruins’ minds eight months later. The fact that the Bruins pushed the high-powered Sooners to an elimination game in the semifinal round of the Women’s College World Series showed how close UCLA was to its goal, but how quickly the decisive game got away from the Bruins reminded them how much further they have to go. The bitter memories have been swirling ever since.

“We got a little fire in our gut,” Inouye-Perez said recently.

Fueled by “missed opportunities” of previous years, Inouye-Perez hopes to lead a mix of experienced Pac-12 transfers, talented freshmen and long-time stalwarts playing on pandemic borrowed time to UCLA’s first national championship since 2019. The No. 2-ranked Bruins start their season Thursday against Cal State Fullerton in the Stacy Winsberg Tournament at Easton Stadium.

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DUCKS

Tyler Seguin scored Dallas’ second shootout goal, and the Stars beat the Ducks 3-2 on Monday night.

Henrique and Jakob Silfverberg scored in regulation for the Ducks, who had won a season-best three in a row. Mason McTavish scored in the shootout.

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Anaheim’s John Gibson stopped 39 shots through overtime.

THIS DATE IN SPORTS

1882 — John L. Sullivan wins the world heavyweight bare-knuckle title by beating Paddy Ryan in a nine-round bout in Mississippi City, Miss.

1942 — At the Millrose Games in New York, Dutch Warmerdam becomes the first man to clear 15 feet in the pole vault indoors. Warmerdam, the first to break the 15-foot mark outdoors in 1940, clears 15 feet 3/8 inch.

1949 — Joe DiMaggio signs his contract with the New York Yankees, making him the first baseball player to earn $100,000 per year.

1969 — Diana Crump becomes the first female jockey to race at a U.S. pari-mutuel track. She rode her first mount to 10th place in a field of 12 in Hialeah, Fla.

1970 — Pete Maravich scores 69 points, including 47 in the second half, to set a NCAA record, but LSU loses to Alabama 106-104.

1976 — Darryl Sittler of the Toronto Maple Leafs sets an NHL record for points in a game with six goals and four assists in an 11-4 victory over the Boston Bruins.

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1990 — Lisa Leslie of Morningside High in Inglewood scores 101 points in the first half against South Torrance High School. The final score is 102-24 as the coach of South Torrance decides not to bring his team out for the second half.

1995 — Joe Mullen becomes the first American-born player to reach 1,000 points in the NHL when he assists on two of the Pittsburgh Penguins’ first three goals in a 7-3 victory over Florida.

2000 — With an astonishing comeback to win the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, Tiger Woods wins his sixth straight PGA Tour event. Seven strokes behind with seven holes to play, Woods holes a 97-yard wedge for eagle on the 15th, and birdies two of the last three holes to win. Woods becomes the first player since Ben Hogan in 1948 to win six straight.

2010 — Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints rally to beat Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts 31-17 in the Super Bowl.

2013 — Tyler Griffey makes an uncontested layup at the buzzer off a baseline inbound pass and Illinois beats No. 1 Indiana 74-72, the fifth straight week the nation’s top-ranked team loses. The Hoosiers took over the top spot in The Associated Press’ Top 25 on Feb. 4. The run of No. 1 teams to lose has been Duke, Louisville, Duke again, Michigan and Indiana.

2015 — Philadelphia University coach Herb Magee becomes the second NCAA men’s basketball coach to win 1,000 games. Magee, who won 1,000 games over 48 seasons at the school, hits the milestone with the Rams’ 80-60 win over Post.

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2016 — Von Miller forces two fumbles to set up Denver’s two touchdowns and the Broncos defense frustrates Cam Newton all game to carry Peyton Manning to his second Super Bowl title with a 24-10 victory over the Carolina Panthers.

2016 — Rachel Banham ties an NCAA women’s record with 60 points — with 10 coming in the first overtime and eight in the second — to lead Minnesota to a 112-106 win over Northwestern. Banham matches the 60 points put up by Cindy Brown of Long Beach State against San Jose State on Feb. 16, 1987.

2018 — St. John’s takes down another of the nation’s elite, and stuns No. 1 Villanova 79-75 for its second win over a top-five team in one week. St. John’s beat then-No. 4 Duke 81-77 at Madison Square Garden on Feb. 3, snapping an 11-game losing streak.

2021 — Sarah Thomas becomes the first woman to referee a Super Bowl.

Compiled by the Associated Press

And finally

Denver stops Carolina in Super Bowl 50. Watch and listen here.

Until next time...

That concludes today’s newsletter. If you have any feedback, ideas for improvement or things you’d like to see, email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com, and follow me on Twitter at @latimeshouston. To get this newsletter in your inbox, click here.

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